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Overwhelm & hope


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I think most people feel overwhelmed a lot in life.  Certainly all of us who have any form(s) of depression and anxiety do.

A few weeks ago, I was hanging out with a lawyer friend of mine.  When I asked how he was doing, he said, "overwhelmed, but not miserable."  I liked that.  Its what I'm trying to adopt even in times when I don't quiet seem able to get up into the positive end of the range of how I'm feeling and being.

I know so many people here have life experiences and circumstances that in many ways are tougher than mine.
But perhaps we'll have walked some of the same paths.

My marriage of 21 years is falling apart.  We're going to divorce, but don't have the $ to separate right now, so it is a living hell in our small apartment, and it is heartbreaking especially to see the toll it is taking on our 3 young kids who we both love.
My wife has become extremely angry and mean and nasty, including toward my oldest daughter.  It's tearing my heart out, and I don't have any brilliant fix (I just keep showing up, being present, willing to listen, and love them, and am practicing compassion, mindfulness, and regulation in the midst of it, which is really difficult for me).

A couple months ago, I left my job as a magistrate at the court presiding over our mental health docket, to return to private practice, with a complex litigation firm.  I like the work, and the people mostly, but holy god it is overwhelming.  Out of one fire, into another frying pan.  I'm just doing my best, taking one day at a time, and I remind myself that if this doesn't work out, I had a good time and got really good results in my previous solo practice.
I'm very lucky to have an exceptional therapist who is also my best former law professor.

I empathize with people who suffer with chronic pain, as mine has flared up and stayed pretty constant the past year (probably in part because I now get up a 4am every day and exercise.  I haven't missed 1 day, 7 days/week, in one year now.  I feel great except for he incessant, distracting, sometimes nearly debilitating pain...and I know I'm still adding suffering to it by resisting, avoiding or perversely attaching to anxiety, etc.)

It is hard to see things to look forward to that are worth living for.  Most likely years of chronic stress, and bipolar disorder colors my whole worldview and experience vis a vis thoughts and impulses toward suicide.  I practice defusion when they come, as they will.

Well, I have to get back to work.  I hope everyone here has a good Friday, weekend, and has some peace, love and happiness in your lives.

- g

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I'm overwhelmed and miserable.  My mind and body are failing.  I get worse every year.  I think my story will go one of two ways.  I will finish cutting myself off from society and hide here in the woods until this is over or I'll be one of those people that just vanish one day and nobody has any idea what happened to me.  I had hope.  I had dreams.  I'll fully admit it's not just the world I don't like.  It's me as well.  I've failed at just about everything a person is supposed to do up to this point in life.  It's ok though.  I never really wanted to do any of it anyway.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, sober4life said:

I'll be one of those people that just vanish one day and nobody has any idea what happened to me.

The pain you are carrying is a lot, and I wouldn't even want it to haapen to my worst enemy.

But before the final, I would like to see you travel to India. 🙂

Edited by Deep_joy
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On 7/1/2022 at 11:54 PM, sober4life said:

I had hope.  I had dreams.  I'll fully admit it's not just the world I don't like.  It's me as well.  I've failed at just about everything a person is supposed to do up to this point in life.  It's ok though.  I never really wanted to do any of it anyway.

How many of us know that feeling.  And those thoughts.  Failure.  Inadequacy.  Not being enough.  Not worthy of being loved, or anything.  Deserving to die even.
Those are my repeating refrains.  Besides depression's other sources, I was literally taught this from our form of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity.

What's heartbreaking about it, is, its a cruel hoax.

If we can learn to be willing to fully accept ourselves, we will then have the most important thing.  Self love/compassion.  It is both immediately available as close as this moment, and also it does take intentional practice of subtle skills.  Like so many things, a mysterious paradox.

If we could (can) see reality as it actually is, we would realize that we are just....human.  That's not a statement of comparison, just common humanity.  If we could see into everyone's head, we would know that people go through this because they're human.  Yes, some more often, consistently, and worse than others.  But ultimately, No one has an easy road. 

We were told by various forces of nature, nurture, culture, society, mass media, social influences, etc., that we were, that we had to be special.  We had to compare, and be the best; and at least measure up to expectations we adopted from somewhere, to be happy.

It was always a lie.

We are enough.  Right now.  Nothing more.

Even the parts we don't like or want to change.  Each of us is enough.

I'm telling myself constantly, that I'm obviously a worthless person because I'm broke, and can't provide minimal security or stability for my kids, I was self-absorbed, and let their parents' marriage break down, and I haven't been a good father.  That the chronic physical pain I've now had for 5 years is made worse by me through anxiety and resistance (which it is probably).  Even that I feel desperately lonely (which is easy in a loveless marriage for 20 years).

These are all interpretations, judgments, opinions.

Meanwhile, my kids just look at me and love me, and do wish I would look up and look out more and see the love that's right in front of me.  They think of all the things I do with and for them.  They don't know how worried I am about us; not really.  My youngest 2 still intuitively appreciate that each new exquisitely vivid moment of life is a gift to be danced in, and they're willing to let the rest of life unfold as it will.

I'm not lecturing anyone; just hoping I can and deciding I will embrace this a little today.

Anyway, @sober4life, I'm sending you lovingkindness today.  May you have peace, love, ease, and wellbeing, even if just a little, today.

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I think that everyone has been conditioned to answer "how are you" with "ok" no matter what.  So, how to break out of that trained behavior?  I have toyed with always answering with a number.  A "1-10" scale.  No, not for the 'typicals' that you pass in the hallway at work, but for people who understand already (like us here)

Overwhelmed but not too miserable.  Nice. Awareness, tolerance, some sense of where the limit is.  I like it.

Of course, some of us are only happy when we are miserable.  I know people that I call "stress puppies", they are only happy if they are under a ton of stress.  (Yea, I do it also.  First step is recognition!)  Some use it to get a lot done.  Some like the supposed job security that it brings.  Others just love to b!tch about stuff or use it to brag.

"How are you?"  is such a loaded question.

Still looking for the hope, or "light at the end of the tunnel" isn't a bad response.  What else do we have?  I'm looking for more things like this myself.  Sometimes, it's hard to find the words.  Having some more responses like this could help us realize where we are.

Back on topic...if the kids don't hate you, you're doing about as much as you can.  It takes two to start a relationship, but only one to break it.  Suffering thru, somedays, waiting for a better (or less conflicted) tomorrow is as good as we can do sometimes.

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16 hours ago, mmoose said:

I think that everyone has been conditioned to answer "how are you" with "ok" no matter what.  So, how to break out of that trained behavior?  I have toyed with always answering with a number.  A "1-10" scale.  No, not for the 'typicals' that you pass in the hallway at work, but for people who understand already (like us here)

Overwhelmed but not too miserable.  Nice. Awareness, tolerance, some sense of where the limit is.  I like it.

Of course, some of us are only happy when we are miserable.  I know people that I call "stress puppies", they are only happy if they are under a ton of stress.  (Yea, I do it also.  First step is recognition!)  Some use it to get a lot done.  Some like the supposed job security that it brings.  Others just love to b!tch about stuff or use it to brag.

"How are you?"  is such a loaded question.

Still looking for the hope, or "light at the end of the tunnel" isn't a bad response.  What else do we have?  I'm looking for more things like this myself.  Sometimes, it's hard to find the words.  Having some more responses like this could help us realize where we are.

Back on topic...if the kids don't hate you, you're doing about as much as you can.  It takes two to start a relationship, but only one to break it.  Suffering thru, somedays, waiting for a better (or less conflicted) tomorrow is as good as we can do sometimes.

@mmoose,

Thanks for this.  Really thoughtful and insightful, especially about about answering with a #, to "how are you doing?"  I'm gong to start doing exactly that with the people I am close to and trust.  That's wise and slightly amusing at the same time.  Bonus.

And to your last points of having some additional positive, or at least adaptive responses, yes, one is gratitude.  Today, I got up, did my morning routine, with some mindful yoga (I know that's a bit cliché, but god for a reason - it works), and intentionally skipped running, so I'm in very little pain today, and feel more grounded than I otherwise would.

I really just got a shot in the arm here from your response, and thank you for it.

I hope you have some joy and beauty in your day as well.

-g

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Hi G,  I've seen your thoughtful posts over the years, but we have not overlapped much.

I was hoping others would jump in with more responses.

Stressed but coping.  Busy, which is good.  Keeping up, barely.  Still getting worse, but should be getting better after the paperwork is finalized.  Glad that only some things are getting worse and not everything getting worse.

This is bad, but "tv show" Big Mouth ends up personifying some emotions.  Depression Kitty, Shame Wizard and the positive one, the Gratitoad.  So now I see 'gratitude' and think about the Gratitoad.  Such a horrible show, but it is has something going on there with emotions personified.

'Living the dream' is a popular response.  'Living the dream, hoping it stops being the nightmare...'  nah, that's too negative.  'Trying to help where I can'  maybe that's good enough.

The number thing is flawed also...we need a bit background for reference.  "yesterday a 2, but today a 3" might be better reference.  But again, we need to be careful about who we use this with.  And when we can, show appreciation for them.  Sounds like you recognize those people in your life are careful to not overwhelm them.

mm

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I’ve learned that I actually fear other people asking “how are you?” because I don’t know how to answer.  I’ve masked depression for 30+ years but I cannot do it anymore.  I very much detest fake people but I realize that I’ve been fake almost my entire life.  Any time I utter out a simple “I’m ok” I know that I am lying and that lie ends my whole day.

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I admire your 

55 minutes ago, MtnDreams said:

I’ve learned that I actually fear other people asking “how are you?” because I don’t know how to answer.  I’ve masked depression for 30+ years but I cannot do it anymore.  I very much detest fake people but I realize that I’ve been fake almost my entire life.  Any time I utter out a simple “I’m ok” I know that I am lying and that lie ends my whole day.

I can imagine how hard it feels. I have found that if we can be able to talk honestly and openly, we all could have a real human life. It is indeed an act of being strong, what you have written above.

I hope you will find people to whom you need not hide.

Edited by Deep_joy
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6 hours ago, MtnDreams said:

I’ve learned that I actually fear other people asking “how are you?” because I don’t know how to answer.  I’ve masked depression for 30+ years but I cannot do it anymore.  I very much detest fake people but I realize that I’ve been fake almost my entire life.  Any time I utter out a simple “I’m ok” I know that I am lying and that lie ends my whole day.

I am sick of saying oh I'm ok.  I used to fear them asking me how I'm doing but I know now they only ask to hear me say I'm ok.  They need to hear that to make themselves feel better.  So what makes me mad about the whole situation is the fact that people make every single situation about them even if it has nothing to do with them at all.

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On 7/6/2022 at 9:50 AM, mmoose said:

Hi G,  I've seen your thoughtful posts over the years, but we have not overlapped much.

I was hoping others would jump in with more responses.

Stressed but coping.  Busy, which is good.  Keeping up, barely.  Still getting worse, but should be getting better after the paperwork is finalized.  Glad that only some things are getting worse and not everything getting worse.

This is bad, but "tv show" Big Mouth ends up personifying some emotions.  Depression Kitty, Shame Wizard and the positive one, the Gratitoad.  So now I see 'gratitude' and think about the Gratitoad.  Such a horrible show, but it is has something going on there with emotions personified.

'Living the dream' is a popular response.  'Living the dream, hoping it stops being the nightmare...'  nah, that's too negative.  'Trying to help where I can'  maybe that's good enough.

The number thing is flawed also...we need a bit background for reference.  "yesterday a 2, but today a 3" might be better reference.  But again, we need to be careful about who we use this with.  And when we can, show appreciation for them.  Sounds like you recognize those people in your life are careful to not overwhelm them.

mm

@mmoose,

That's funny.  It reminds me of an old sitcom, Inside Herman's Head, and also of Disney's Inside Out.  These are good, really vivid depictions of emotions.  I read and write a good bit on neuroaesthetics, and the usefulness of art and particularly film and TV in evoking and processing difficult emotions, and also just transforming suffering into beauty, to cope better with life when it feels unbearable.

Which it does to me right now.  I'm just going to vent this burden for a minute.
Life continues to unravel.  Money is gone, my wife is hiding all of her (modest income), the kids are suffering, I'm crippled with anxiety and a feeling of total lack of control with this new law firm that feels right now like its going to **** me (I'm just burned out and ready to end my life), and last night felt like the last straw.

The one thing I really had going for me and felt good about, was a really good working relationship with my therapist (also former favorite law professor).  Last night, she kind of got me talking and focusing in a direction I didn't want to; no big deal, but I had wanted to spend the time talking about some stuff I had prepared (on neuroaesthetics), just to have something in my life right now to feel good about.  I uploaded it in advance, and even told her this was what I wanted to do.  Usually, she'd be all over this; but it didn't and we ran out of time, and I felt the worst I ever have, walking out of there.

I don't want to let it affect this relationship, which is far too important to me, so I'm determined that I won't.  I guess I can accept and validate the way I felt (feel) and still forgive or just let it go, remembering we all--even therapists--are people.  I have a very strong, unfortunate tendency to idealize to the point of deifying people.  It's not fair or helpful; and I recognize I am just really suffering and sensitive right now.

I have wanted to die anyway, and talked about it.  I REALLY wanted to when I walked out.

And this just doesn't seem to be getting easier.  I feel alone.
I have good friends.  I have some support at work (though this environment is brutal for me generally).  I have family.  They're kind of there, kind of not.

Life just hurts so much right now, and I don't know how I'll take care of my kids or provide us with a decent life.

Thanks for letting me vent here.  I need to do something positive, but for now, I just needed to share this burden.

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On 7/13/2022 at 11:32 PM, MtnDreams said:

I’ve learned that I actually fear other people asking “how are you?” because I don’t know how to answer.  I’ve masked depression for 30+ years but I cannot do it anymore.  I very much detest fake people but I realize that I’ve been fake almost my entire life.  Any time I utter out a simple “I’m ok” I know that I am lying and that lie ends my whole day.

@MtnDreams,

I don't think your hiding your depression is necessarily being fake.  Time, place and context.  You need to feel safe.  You're sharing it here.

And it is never too late.  I started being more open about mine, some years ago, and I can tell you as many here can, that it is often a very high risk-reward proposition.  There is real risk of consequence in our society.

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On 7/14/2022 at 6:11 AM, sober4life said:

I am sick of saying oh I'm ok.  I used to fear them asking me how I'm doing but I know now they only ask to hear me say I'm ok.  They need to hear that to make themselves feel better.  So what makes me mad about the whole situation is the fact that people make every single situation about them even if it has nothing to do with them at all.

Yah, this is true.

I've started using a number as a shorthand with anyone I feel comfortable / trust enough to do that with.  Otherwise, I just say 'fine' because it is the social convention to get to the next thing we need to do.

it's highly contextual to me, and sometimes I interrupt someone else's pattern.   Fine.  Don't ask, if you don't want to know.  I'll extend the same to others.

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(been busy and not on this site for a bit)

Sometimes, maybe we need to get out of what we think is important and our therapists can see that (or play with it)  If you trust, trust.  And, nothing is perfect of course.  And, sometimes we need to learn which things are good to let go...and which things, if let go, get worse...

I loved Herman's Head.  Shame it was such a short run.  And of course, to put a face on the voice of Lisa Simpson!!  Personification of emotions, sure.  But also the demonstration of the conflicts between them, pulling us in opposite directions etc.  Things are complicated.  (should be a cast of hundreds, not just those four.  And, like it's easy to recognize the various things like it is as easy as recognizing a face.... Take that cast of hundreds and make them all wear the same costume)

 

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, mmoose said:

(been busy and not on this site for a bit)

Sometimes, maybe we need to get out of what we think is important and our therapists can see that (or play with it)  If you trust, trust.  And, nothing is perfect of course.  And, sometimes we need to learn which things are good to let go...and which things, if let go, get worse...

I loved Herman's Head.  Shame it was such a short run.  And of course, to put a face on the voice of Lisa Simpson!!  Personification of emotions, sure.  But also the demonstration of the conflicts between them, pulling us in opposite directions etc.  Things are complicated.  (should be a cast of hundreds, not just those four.  And, like it's easy to recognize the various things like it is as easy as recognizing a face.... Take that cast of hundreds and make them all wear the same costume)

 

I really enjoy the way you write.

Thank you.

I had another therapy session last night.  I did the riskiest most vulnerable thing I'd ever done in therapy.   It was pretty bold, and there was a ton of fear and shame around it. I know that's vague for now.  Maybe I'll write about it here sometime.  It was something I had wanted to do and thought about for a long time, but wasn't sure it was worth the risk.

Sometimes life is just enough of a many splendored thing to get you through the next moments and a day.

And I guess that's what I'm living for right now, as so many times, and I guess that's okay.

Edited by gandolfication
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